MSNBC’s host of Now with Alex Wagner went after President Barack Obama and the members of his administration on Monday for flirting with the idea of approving the Keystone XL pipeline. She said that “progressive values” are threatened if the president were to leave office in 2017 having won nothing from Republicans in terms of long-desired Democratic reforms, but had used his executive authority to approve the pipeline. But Wagner’s criticism of Obama lacks consistency. While the popularity of certain gun control measures is a sign to her that the GOP opposes them only because they are beholden to special interests, she finds it to be a demonstration of political courage if Obama were to buck the will of the people and kill the Keystone pipeline.
In an interview with Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Wagner said that developments like former Obama administration members joining with campaigns to kill the pipeline suggest to her that “the environmental movement is beginning to gain some steam.”
She later compared the tragedy in Newtown and the lessons learned from that atrocity to the building of the Keystone pipeline. She said that Keystone’s construction would signal to her and others that the nation has forgotten the lessons learned after the BP oil spill of 2010.
Wagner turned to The Grio editor Joy-Ann Reid and invoked “progressive values.” She said that Obama, who may not get any form of gun control or immigration reform out of a divided Congress, could end up sacrificing his legacy among his liberal supporters if he approves the Keystone pipeline.
Reid noted that, however, some states in the pipeline’s proposed path are amenable to it’s construction. She said that states like Louisiana and Texas are “destroying themselves” in the process of exploring for new energy reserves. “Doubling down on dirty fuel,” Wagner agreed.
Broun concluded the interview with the estimation that climate change is both an economic, national security, and global affairs priority. He implored Obama and his administration to “show leadership” and make “difficult political decisions in favor of clean energy.”
While Wagner’s program had just two segments prior berated the GOP for flirting with the idea of bucking the popular will and blocking expanded background check legislation, the popular will did not seem to matter much when it comes to Keystone. Indeed, in the MSNBC host’s estimation, it would be a sign of measurable political courage if the White House were to block the construction of the pipeline in the face of bitter opposition.
A Pew Research Center poll released on April 2 shows that only 23 percent of respondents oppose the building of the Keystone XL pipeline while only 23 percent are opposed to its construction. The only subgroup with a plurality of members who oppose the construction of the pipeline are those who describe themselves as “liberal.” Even among self-described liberals, 42 percent support the pipelines construction to just 48 who oppose it.
An honest and consistent political analysis would concede that Republicans run as much risk in bucking popular sentiment and filibustering expanded background checks as President Obama would in blocking the construction of Keystone.
Judging, however, from the invocation of “progressive values,” and the implied threat that Obama’s legacy could be sullied by a lack of accomplishments favorable to his liberal base if he chooses not to oppose the pipeline, advocacy and agitation rather than imparting deliberative reporting and analysis is the purpose of this segment.
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